Transfer Portal Shopping List

Transfer Portal Shopping List

April 15, 2024
Alex Orji

The transfer portal opens up on Tuesday, April 16, and lots of schools are going to be shopping. With spring games out of the way for many programs – and Michigan’s coming up this Saturday – we’re enough of the way through spring ball to be aware of some roster deficiencies going into the fall.

Here are the top three positions Michigan should be looking for in the transfer portal prior to August camp:

I know there are some big Alex Orji fans out there, but . . . I’m not one of them. At least not yet. Orji was a project coming out of high school, and in his second season in a Michigan uniform, he did not attempt a single pass. Yes, he can run at 6’3″ and 236 pounds (15 carries, 86 yards, 1 touchdown in 2023), but I’m on the record as a Passing QB Enthusiast. While I’m not a proponent of statuesque quarterbacks, championship teams have good passers and decision-makers, not run-first quarterbacks. I don’t think Michigan has the roster to win an FBS championship in 2024, anyway, but I don’t think they’re going to hit their ceiling without finding a quarterback who can pass the ball efficiently. Some of the big names have already found a new home, but perhaps the Wolverines can find the 2024 version of Jake Rudock, a solid passing quarterback who led Michigan to ten wins back in 2015. Others in the running are seventh-year senior Jack Tuttle and redshirt sophomore Jayden Denegal, but Tuttle had shoulder surgery and Denegal needs some polish since he’s not quite as dangerous as a runner as Orji.

Hit the jump for more.

Michigan’s lack of quality cornerback recruiting over the past several years has been somewhat baffling considering the Wolverines have produced all-conference cornerbacks and NFL players (or future NFL players) like Jourdan Lewis, David Long, Mike Sainristil, and Will Johnson. Johnson was a 5-star, but the Wolverines just haven’t brought in enough of those high-quality athletes to keep the train rolling. Across the field from Johnson, Michigan needs to put a starting cornerback on the field, and I’m not sure that guy is on the roster. With Sainristil off to the NFL – and Josh Wallace likely to join him in getting drafted – the Wolverines will be choosing between a trio of players with limited crunch-time experience. Nickel corner Ja’Den McBurrows could possibly slide outside, but it’s more likely that Jyaire Hill or D.J. Waller becomes a starter. Personally, I’m highest on the dynamic athleticism of Hill, but he needed to add some strength and maturity this off-season. Regardless, Michigan probably needs to start at least three cornerbacks – Johnson, a nickel, and another outside guy – and they only have one surefire guy. With former NFL defensive coordinator Wink Martindale in the mix, I think Michigan should be able to find at least one corner with the length, speed, and mentality to want to show his mettle in an NFL defensive scheme to make a case to get drafted in 2025 or beyond.

There was a time when Michigan seemed stacked at the safety position, back when returning starters Rod Moore and Makari Paige were going to skip the NFL draft to play one more season in Ann Arbor, and when Keon Sabb looked like he could be a third starter, perhaps with Moore sliding down to nickel. Then Sabb decided to go for a sure starting role at Alabama . . . and Moore tore his ACL in practice. Michigan went from having three very good safeties – plus a promising Zeke Berry – to just Paige. Berry is still around, second-year player Brandyn Hillman has received some positive buzz, and the staff managed to pry Quinten Johnson back from his intention to test the NFL waters. Right now it seems like Paige and Johnson will be the starters, while Berry and Hillman duke it out for backup duties. But ideally, the Wolverines can find a third starting-caliber safety.

I do not claim to be good at scouting kickers, so I just have to rely on practice buzz. And the word coming out of spring practice is that Michigan does not have a solid kicking situation. After Jake Moody had a great run for the Wolverines, Michigan landed transfer James Turner from Louisville for the 2023 season, and he was good enough to help win a national championship. But now that Turner is gone, the only scholarship kicker set to be on the roster is second-year player Adam Samaha. The nice thing about kicker/punter transfers is they can generally step in at a moment’s notice without needing spring ball to get acclimated, so if Michigan does land a quality placekicker in the portal, hopefully he can step right and be ready to go on August 31.

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